Titans Look Across the Street for Next Foe

Titans Look Across the Street for Next Foe

Nov. 14, 2006

Fullerton, Calif. -

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Tues., Nov. 14 - vs. Hope International, Titan Gym, 7:05 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 22 - at Texas-San Antonio, Convocation Center, 1 p.m. CST
Fri., Nov. 24 - at Louisiana-Lafayette, Cajundome, 7:05 p.m. CST
Mon., Nov. 27 - at Eastern Washington, Reese Court in Cheney, 7:05 p.m. PST

Cal State Fullerton plays the school across the street -- Hope International -- to complete a 2-game season-opening slate vs. NAIA opposition. The Titans opened on Friday night with a 108-56 win over California Maritime Academy, which matched the school record for largest margin of victory. The Titans must play their first three games without the services of senior point guard Bobby Brown, junior guard Frank Robinson, junior forward Scott Cutley and senior reserve center Curtis Battles due to suspensions for an NCAA violation involving misuse of book vouchers.

All Titan games can be heard live on the internet on computers with sound cards. Listeners may access the CSF Athletics home page at www.fullertontitans.com and follow the links. Todd Reeves will describe the Hope International game and Mel Franks will be at the microphone on the 3-game Thanksgiving Weekend road trip.

All Titan home games and road Big West Conference games are available via videostreaming on a subscription basis. Details are available on the Big West website at www.bigwest.org.

Fullerton leads Hope, 2-0, winning its opener last season, 97-52, and logging a 107-73 victory in 2004-05. Fullerton lost to UTSA last year in Miami, Florida, 88-76. The teams played a home-and-home series in 1983-85 with the home team winning each time. Fullerton will be meeting Louisiana-Lafayette for the first time and carries a 3-0 advantage over Eastern Washington -- 1-0 in Cheney.

Hope International is an NAIA institution located immediately south of the Cal State Fullerton campus, housed in former CSF dormitories and the old bookstore. Coach Greg Pappas is in his third year with a current 5-53 record including a winless 2005-06 season. The Royals lost their first two games of this season in a tournament at Cal Baptist in Riverside, 81-70 to Dominican and 78-71 to William Jessup. They split a close pair last weekend in a tournament at Azusa Pacific, beating Rocky Mountain, 75-73, and losing to Westminster, 59-57. Center Marko Torovic had 17 points in each game. Forward Enrique Villareal had 19 points vs. Rocky Mountain to go with 9 rebounds. The Royals also feature the Hardeman brothers -- Travis and Trent. They played across the street for Troy High School for their father, T. J. Hardeman, who is now the women's coach at Hope.

Texas-San Antonio has a new coach in Brooks Thompson, who was an assistant at Arizona State the past two seasons. The former Oklahoma State star, who was a first-round draft choice of Orlando in the 1994 draft and played for five NBA teams, previously served as head coach at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona, where he was 55-14. UTSA will have four games including a tough trip to Washington State and Gonzaga under its belt when it hosts Fullerton in the first half of a home-and-home series that will conclude in Titan Gym on Dec. 2.

The Titans are trying to post their third consecutive winning season, something that hasn't been done in Fullerton since Coach George McQuarn posted four winning records between 1981-82 and 1984-85. When the full roster is eligible to play, the Titans will feature three returning "regulars" in seniors Bobby Brown at point guard and Justin Burns at forward and junior guard Frank Robinson, who was the Big West Conference's "sixth-man" of the year in 2005-06. Four-year transfers Scott Cutley and Marcus Crenshaw from Kent State and Ray Reed from Georgetown figure to make an immediate impact along with community college transfers Kenneth Alexander and Marcus Morgan from West Valley and Andrew Green from College of the Sequoias.

Bob Burton is 49-41 in his fourth year at Cal State Fullerton and career. At .544, Burton has the second best winning percentage of any Titans' head coach, trailing only Bobby Dye (109-78, .583). He is 1-0 vs. Hope International, 0-1 vs. Texas-San Antonio and 3-0 vs. Eastern Washington.

Fullerton is 1-0 for only the second time in the last 10 years. Fullerton last year snapped a string of eight consecutive season-opening losses with a home win over Hope International, 97-52. Not coincidentally, all eight of those preceding losses came away from Titan Gym in places such as Oregon State, Kansas State and Utah.

Senior point guard Bobby Brown is the focal point of the Cal State Fullerton program. The unheralded product of Westchester High School in Los Angeles has developed into one of the nation's finest players and an All-America candidate. He tested the NBA draft waters last summer but opted to return for his senior year. He has been nominated for the Bob Cousy Award as the nation's top point guard and has made numerous pre-season All-Big West Conference teams. Last year he was first-team All-Big West and second-team All-NABC District. He needs 462 points this season to become the Titans' all-time leading scorer, surpassing All-American, Olympic gold medalist and 6-year NBA veteran Leon Wood.

Senior Justin Burns made dramatic improvement from his sophomore to junior seasons and is approaching all-conference consideration. With the departure of Jamaal Brown, he will likely see more time in the "5" or post position this season. He averaged in double figures in scoring (10.4 pg) last year after a strong finish. He was fourth in the Big West in rebounding at 6.7 rpg and fifth in blocked shots at 0.93 per game. He had five double-doubles and picked up another one Friday night with 18 points and 11 rebounds against Cal Maritime.

Junior Frank Robinson was the key Titan off the bench last year when he was selected the "sixth man" of the year in the Big West Conference. He became a starter for the final three weeks of the season and played to an all-conference level, averaging 16.6 points over the last seven games capped by a 25-point, 12-rebound effort in defeat to Long Beach State in the semifinals of the post-season tournament. Overall, he averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds and was No. 3 in the conference in 3-point field goal accuracy at .445 (49 of 110). He also led the conference in steals at 1.66 per game.

Former redshirts Chris Minardo and Ray Reed had impressive Titan debuts vs. Cal Maritime as did newcomers Andrew Green (College of the Sequoias), Kenneth Alexander (West Valley College) and Marcus Crenshaw (Kent State). Minardo hit four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes on his way to 20 points. Reed had 16 points, 6 assists and 6 steals. Green had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes, Alexander had 12 points in 16 minutes and Crenshaw had 18 points and 8 assists including the game's highlight play -- a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass to trailer Minardo for a tomahawk dunk.

Under Coach Bob Burton, the Titans are 26-13 (.667) in Titan Gym and have a modest 4-game winning streak alive.

Not coincidental to the recent home success, a squad of cheerleaders was added to the home court ambience for last season. Along with a flag carrier and a new student band, they join the entertainment package headed by the six-time national champion dance team.

Westchester High School, one of California's most successful prep basketball programs in recent times, leaves a lot of flavor on the Titans' roster. Current players Bobby Brown, Scott Cutley and Jarrel Lake all played there while Titan Assistant Coach Marlon Morton was on the WHS staff. Last year's team had two more former Comets in Jerard Moret (who transferred to West L.A. College) and John Clemmons (eligibility expired).

Lafayette, Louisiana, with its Cajundome is the only stop on the Titans' basketball itinerary this year where the Titans have not previously competed. Conversely, three new opponents are visiting Titan Gym -- California Maritime, Bethune Cookman and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Cal State Fullerton was a consensus third-place prediction at the annual Big West Conference Basketball Media Day on Oct. 25. Both the media and coaches polls had Fullerton behind Pacific and Long Beach State.